Chickenpox outbreak in Florida

Florida's Lee County has issued an outbreak warning for chickenpox after 41 confirmed cases of the disease have hit children since February.

The outbreak has affected children of all ages in all part of the county, Jennifer James-Mesloh, a spokeswoman for the county health departments, told Most of the chickenpox cases in Lee County have occurred in elementary aged children.

Typically, Lee County sees only 15 cases of chickenpox in a year, with 12 reported in 2008 and 15 in 2009.

A spokesman for the Lee County School District told that an unusual number of chickenpox cases began to be reported by school nurses in February. The county health department was then notified.

James-Mesloh said that the large increase in reported cases should serve as notice for parents to have their children vaccinated. A vaccine for chickenpox was released in 1995. That vaccine has lowered the number of outbreaks, James-Mesloh said, but is most effective when a second dose is administered.

The vaccine has a 97 percent success rate for children who receive a second dose. Most of the Lee County cases occurred in children who only received one dose of the vaccine.

Only three to five percent of vaccine recipients report any side effects, which include mild rashes near the site of injection.